According to LeadQuizzes, a personal brand is “an image you’ve created around your own professional self.” Developing your personal brand helps you to not only be able to concisely talk about your skills, but also allows you to create a career that aligns with your values. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, author of Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor says that developing your personal brand is one of the best ways to attract a sponsor, and professionals with sponsors are 23% more likely than their peers to be promoted.
However, trying to develop your personal brand can be difficult. As women, we often suffer through the “likability conundrum” where gender norms assume that women must be “nice” if we want to be liked. Too assertive and you’re seen as aggressive and labeled an “ice queen,” or some other not-so-nice word. This can have real consequences, such as being passed over for a promotion, or people not wanting to sponsor you because you aren’t seen as a team player.
So how can women develop their brand with confidence, while still trying to navigate the current world we live in? We have three strategies to help you better communicate who you are and your talents.
Define and Promote Yourself
The most important aspect of your personal brand is defining who you are. Start by creating a list of your strengths, values, and what you’d like to be known for. Use these as a platform to jumpstart your brand. Learn how these strengths and values make you a unique person in solving problems.
As you realize the problems you can solve, start creating content: These can be videos, articles, infographics, anything that helps you show off your knowledge. We have been facilitating #IamRemarkable workshops, a Google initiative that strives to empower women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments.
As women, we struggle to promote ourselves because we don’t want to be seen as bragging or full of ourselves. That’s why we love the quote “It’s not bragging if it’s based on facts.” Once you are able to define yourself, promote who you are! Show off your knowledge, because you’ve worked hard to get it.
(Learn how you can join a #IamRemarkable workshop here.)
Network outside of your circle
We feel most comfortable around what we know. It’s human nature. But staying within your own company or industry can become like an echo chamber.
“When only a select group knows about your talents and abilities, you put yourself in jeopardy. You have fewer people who can speak to your contributions or provide support, whether that’s help in securing additional resources for an important project or moving up to a new role. And if your department is reorganized or your company has layoffs, the people who understand your talents won’t be in a position to help.” Harvard Business Review, 2018.
Instead, push yourself out of your comfort zone. Attend events you might not normally be at or join a webinar on something that interests you that you’d like to learn more about. Reach out to others through LinkedIn. When you reach out, let the other party know how you found them, what you have to offer, and ask how you can help them.
Support Other Women
We know that when women support each other, we’re able to make powerful change. If we want to combat the “likability conundrum” we need to change the narrative that women must be nice to be valued. We also must change that women must compete against each other for a voice.
When you see a woman promoting herself on social media, leave a like and a comment. Share if it speaks to you. If someone makes a comment about how “aggressive” a woman coworker is being, call them out on it. If you find yourself in a position of power, become a sponsor for other women. Continue to reach out in all directions to other women and lift them up.
Promoting other women will not only help spread the wealth of knowledge women possess, but “supports other women” will become a core value people associate with you.
What ways do you develop your personal brand? How would you help other women in promoting themselves?
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